BTB Supplier Restricts Mailroom

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Whelen Engineering Co., worldwide supplier of warning lights and sirens, sent a fax to customers this week saying that it was restricting its mailroom as a result of recent anthrax scares and that the restrictions would result in delays.

"For the safety of our employees, we are restricting the type of mail that they will open," according to the statement signed by company president John Olson.

When reached by telephone, Olson added, "Unless we can have a clear-cut return address on it, it will not be considered at all, and then only if we have a record of a customer by that name."

Whelen's clients include safety supply cataloger Sa-So, Grand Prairie, TX, and public safety equipment cataloger Galls, Lexington, KY. Galls is Whelen's largest cataloger client by far, Olson said.

Representatives from Sa-So or Galls could not immediately be reached for comment.

To avoid the mailroom delays, Whelen directed its customers to fax all orders to the firm and electronically transfer all payments. The fax included Whelen's bank account number and a series of fax numbers for the various departments and divisions.

Olson estimated that 50 percent of Chester, CT-based Whelen's clients pay by electronic transfer. Olson said it's time for companies to wake up to the benefits of electronic transfers.

"Automatic clearinghouse transfer. ACH. It costs nothing," he said. "It takes 48 hours for processing. It costs a buck and a half to write a check. And mail, for 35 cents, takes 10 days to get here. It even took anthrax 10 days to get from New Jersey."

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